After winning a gold medal in 2013, the United States has failed to take home a medal in the past two tournaments, and they'll look to change that trend this year. Despite opening the 2015 tournament with a win against a very good Finland team, and two shutouts against Slovakia and Germany, they fell short against their toughest competition.
The team dropped a 5-3 decision to Canada in a wild round-robin game, and then losing 3-2 in an undisciplined quarter-final affair against Russia knocked them out of medal contention. The good news for the Americans is that their offense is absolutely loaded at forward. Led by the likely first overall draft pick Auston Matthews, the offense should score in bunches, and it will be up to the defense and goaltending to hold up.
|#||Player||Pos||League||Current Team (NHL)|
|36||Brandon Halverson||G||OHL||Sault Ste. Marie (NYR)|
|31||Alex Nedeljkovic||G||OHL||Flint (CAR)|
|8||Louie Belpedio (A) ||D||NCAA||Miami University (MIN)|
|2||Will Borgen||D||NCAA||St. Cloud State (BUF)|
|26||Brandon Carlo||D||WHL||Tri-City (BOS)|
|5||Brandon Fortunato||D||NCAA||Boston University|
|4||Chad Krys||D||USHL||USNTP U-18|
|25||Charlie McAvoy||D||NCAA||Boston University|
|13||Zach Werenski (C) ||D||NCAA||University of Michigan (CLB)|
|10||Anders Bjork||F||NCAA||Notre Dame (BOS)|
|23||Brock Boeser||F||NCAA||North Dakota (VAN)|
|19||Ryan Donato||F||NCAA||Harvard (BOS)|
|11||Christian Dvorak||F||OHL||London (ARZ)|
|17||Ryan MacInnis||F||OHL||Kitchener (ARZ)|
|34||Auston Matthews (A) ||F||Swiss NLA||ZSC Lions|
|28||Sonny Milano||F||AHL||Lake Erie (CLB)|
|9||Nick Schmaltz||F||NCAA||North Dakota (CHI)|
|18||Colin White||F||NCAA||Boston College (OTT)|
The most obvious strength of Team USA is its potent scoring potential. The scarier part is them leaving point-per-game players like Jeremy Bracco and Kyle Connor of the team, yet still fielding one of the deepest groups in the tournament.
The scoring leader is likely to be Auston Matthews, but they're insanely deep beyond him. He should be closely followed by Matthew Tkachuk, who is also likely to be a top-10 pick in this year's draft.
Team USA has two major things working against them going into this year's tournament. Their defensive group isn't the deepest, and outside of Brandon Carlo and Zach Werenski, they're lacking experience at the event. Of course, the Carolina Hurricanes refusing to loan Noah Hanifin for the tournament, and the IIHF ruling Jake Walman ineligible are both big blows for the team.
The second major weakness is the American side opting for a clear top six/bottom six divide among forwards. Despite being a very good overall group, they left a lot of good talent on the sidelines, and that could hurt them against top teams like Canada and Sweden. It's a flaw that has hampered the Americans in the past, and it might do so again this year.
The focus is clear this year for Team USA; come back home with a medal, and they may very well do that. It just might be difficult to do if the forwards have trouble creating chemistry, and aren't creating enough scoring chances. Playing in a group that includes the surprising resilient Danish and Swiss teams, in addition to Canada and Sweden will provide a stern test for the Americans.
If they're lucky, their high powered top-six forwards will score enough to cover the weaknesses of the team. At worst, they don't, and the Americans head home without a medal for the third straight year.